While the world outside feels chaotic, we readers find refuge in books. Here are some books that I have read recently and would recommend:
People We Meet on Vacation – Warm, buttery, sweet, and perfect for romance lovers. This is a book one can read again and again.
On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft: If you read one book on writing, make it this. An authentic voice is such an elusive thing. Stephen King does it so effortlessly. To imagine him facing near-death halfway through the text and still producing such a great book speaks to his skills as an author. I learned a lot from this book and highly recommend it to all my author friends.
A Game of Fear (Inspector Ian Rutledge, #24): To say I have a soft spot for the shell-shocked inspector is an understatement. I have read all the books in this series. This novel was better than the last book. That is saying something because this is book 24. Recommend for mystery lovers and lovers of the foggy, grey English countryside.
The Last Wish (The Witcher, #0.5): Surprised by this book. In a good way. Short stories compiled cleverly into a novel. Sprinkling of old fairy tales retold in clever ways. Recommend for fantasy readers. I am off reading the next book in this series.
Of course, if you have not read my books, start reading with Heir to Malla.
A lady in my book club recommended Lisa See’s Snow Flower and the Secret Fan. I am embarrassed to say I had never heard of the author before. I read the book and loved it. It is based in 19th century China, and most of the story takes place in the women’s chamber. No voyages or epic journeys in this novel. Instead, it revolves around a woman’s life in that time and the protagonist’s friendship and family ties. This may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I loved the emotional tug of heart. Have you read any other Lisa See novels that you would recommend?
Incense and Sensibility by Sonali Dev – This is an Indian American twist to Jane Austen’s classic. I have read other books in the Rajes series, and the author keeps getting better with her flavors, characters, and tales.
And Then You Loved Me by Inglath Cooper – Great love story filled with family drama and sacrifices. Similar notes to Heir to Malla, though my book is set in medieval India. Isn’t that the marvelous thing about human nature that allows us to enjoy books set in different cultures and periods?
Most of us have heard the saying: Practice makes perfect. In the case of authors, writing does make us better. But what if we are practicing something wrong. Then we carry those bad habits from book to book. How do we improve our craft without relying on our editors to come and save the day?
Luckily there are several different ways.
We can read novels by other authors. This is my favorite option because I love to read. I have read 24 books so far this year. Reading helps us see how other authors structure their stories. Sometimes, I am too caught up in the narration to pause and observe the style. Which is not a bad thing.
You can also attend writer’s conferences or take courses. I have attended a local writer’s conference in the past and hope to take part in one next year when the world returns to normal.
In the meantime, I have been reading a few books on writing. While there is no magic wand, each book I have read has expanded my horizon. You can check out the writing books I have read here.
My most recent book is Characters & Viewpoints. This book is written in an easy-to-read style while imparting a lot of knowledge. I enjoyed the writing samples sprinkled throughout the book that conveyed information more readily.
For my Land of Magadha series, I choose first-person POV because a few fantasies I had read used it. This book discussed all the different POV options and its merits. I might use third-person limited POV for my next series based on what I learned here.
I recommend this book for aspiring writers and current writers.
Robin Hobb’s writing is marvelous. This third book of the Liveship traders trilogy concludes satisfactorily while leaving enough threads for us to meet these characters in a future book.
You can read my review of book one and two in my blog.
I read all three books in the last few months while editing and revising my book. That should tell you how this series captured my imagination. I am inspired to write a fantasy series after I complete the Land of Magadha series.
The author has written many books. What order to read the books is a question I asked myself. My answer is in the order she wrote them. I have read Farseer Trilogy and Liveship Traders Trilogy. I will be reading the Tawny Man trilogy next.
Highly recommend these books to any fantasy lover.
I read this book out of sequence. I read Recipe for Persuasion earlier and enjoyed it. You can read my review here. Before reading her new book, Incense and Sensibility, I decided to read the first book of the Rajes series, Pride, Prejudice and other flavors.
I am a huge fan of Jane Austen and have read her novels many times. I made sure I did not compare the characters in this book to Lizzy and Darcy in my head. Once I decided to enjoy this book as is, I appreciated this novel.
The story of the immigrant families resonated with me. Immigrant families and their high expectations for their kids rings true across cultures. The author has a way of describing her food that is magical. So a warning to readers to not read this book hungry. You will be attacking your fridge.
The alternating POV is effective. The story itself is not new. When Wickham arrives as a character, we know how it is going to end. The surprise is in the author’s treatment of this old tale and giving it a new life with plenty of Indian flavors.
Recommend for romance readers and Jane Austen book lovers.
This is book two in the Liveship Traders fantasy series. You can read my review of book one here.
I hope to one day write like Robin Hobb.
The world-building is mind-blowing.
Set in this world is a rich set of characters, each with their unique voice and arc. From Althea to Wintrow to Malta to Vivacia, this author has masterfully crafted an imaginative and emotionally satisfying story.
Middle books in a trilogy sometimes suffer from a meandering plot. Not the case in this book.
What am I looking forward to in book 3?
Malta’s arc: That child is full of surprises;
Althea and Brashen: Is there a happy ending here?
Wintrow: I want the boy to have peace. Is that too much to ask?
Vivacia: Will I see the ship fly?
Recommend this book to epic fantasy lovers.
I normally love to read Inspector Ian Rutledge mysteries. This book did not engage my heart as others have in the past.
The ingredients were all present: familiar PTSD, thrown into work, drive to solve the puzzle, and a good murder mystery. But the end result did not taste the same as the other Inspector Ian Rutledge mysteries.
This story felt like a memory rather than the real thing. The mystery is still good and keeps you engaged. But the man, Ian Rutledge, lacks his usual presence. He is a mere shadow in the tale.
I want to see him change and experience life, but he is a mere observer in this book. That left me frustrated as a reader.
If you like mysteries, I highly recommend the series. This book, though, is not on par with the others.
I finished reading King’s cage, book three in the Red Queen series. Check out my reviews for books 1 and 2.
Reading fantasy is like reading three romance or mystery novels. At over 500 pages, this took me a couple of weeks to read.
We have new POVs in this book, and it made this the best book so far in this series. Mare Barrow is a self-centered teen, and being in her head all through the book can be tiring.
Cal’s arc in this book was good. I cannot wait to find out what our prince will do next. Maven continues to be the most engaging character, and I cannot wait to find what mad schemes he concocts in the finale.
Magic is well thought out, and the author walks a fine line between waving a wand to save our heroes to keeping it real.
The author pulled back the curtain to reveal the command and other players in this universe. What will our red and silver puppets do in the finale under these puppeteer’s strings? Is there a happy ending for any of them? I cannot wait to find out. I recommend this book for YA fantasy readers.
I recently read Ship of Magic by Robin Hobb. This is book one in the fantasy series Liveship Traders.
I have read Robin’s Farseer trilogy before and loved it. You can read my review here.
This story is set in the same world as the Farseer Trilogy, but the magic is very different. Inate objects exhibit these astonishing magical powers, and there are unusual magical beasts.
The characters are rich and varied and written so well. This is Robin’s specialty. She narrates these intricate tales with many characters, each with well-defined traits and motives. I also love how she gives each character the room to breathe in their own bubble. The reader has time to get to know them, and understand them, and fall in love. As a writer, there are many things for me to learn from her.
I was able to easily keep track of each individual tale, and this novel did a fantastic job of keeping me hooked till the end.
Althea has a stunning arc in this book, and so do Kennit and Wintrow. Vivacia is going to be a handful in the next book, and so is Malta. Brashen, Etta, and Kyle, Ronica, and Keffria add depth to the layered book.
I cannot wait to find out more about the Rain Wild Traders, the serpents, Paragon, and the other who showed up in chapter one. There are some nice easter eggs for folks who have read the Farseer Trilogy.
Robin Hobb crafts these complex worlds with astounding characters that tug the reader’s heart. I highly recommend this book to my fellow fantasy lovers.
This is the second book in the Red Queen series. You can find my review for the first book, Red Queen, here.
What does it say about me that my favorite character in this series so far is Maven. I am drawn to broken characters.
Mare Barrow is our protagonist and our POV character. Somehow, being in her head and reading her thoughts has not endeared her to me.
The story in book two is simple. Find other red blood people with special powers before Maven does.
The author has done a fabulous job introducing so many varied magical elements. There are some intriguing powers among them, more diverse than the silver world.
The various houses all blended in my head, and I did not worry too much about remembering them. I was able to follow the main plot without attention to such details.
This is an epic fantasy tale but not in the scale of Game of thrones or Mistborn. Still, I enjoyed this book and recommend it for fantasy nerds.
Author note: If you are drawn to epic fiction, I recommend my book Heir to Malla, a historical adventure laced with love. It takes place in the fictional land of Magadha, loosely based on medieval India.